Tim is a Jackson School Postdoc (soon to be Assistant Professor in Jan 2019) working with on the use of remote sensing for understanding the Earth's surface.
How did you get interested in what you study?
I was always interested in space as a kid, and then during my undergrad degree in geological engineering, a professor pointed out to me that there is a whole community of planetary geoscientists. I did some research online about what programs were out there, got in touch with potential graduate advisors, and was lucky enough to find a really good fit for a PhD program in terms of aligned research interests.
What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on a study to understand catastrophic floods on Mars. The surface of Mars is covered with impact craters, and >3.5 billion years ago many of these craters filled with water and overflowed, resulting in huge floods that cut massive canyons into the landscape. We are trying to study the record of these floods using topography of the martian surface, and also using a numerical model to replicate the flood erosion.
What advice do you have for people just getting started in your field?
Find an area of active research that interests you, and then really dive in. Read papers, attend talks if you are able to go to conferences, and talk to colleagues and mentors. Try to find questions that are unanswered, but that you think would be fun to try to answer. Working in an area of research that suits your own interests is what makes science so fun and rewarding! That, and always working to make connections with people at conferences, with visitors to your department/place of work, or just by emailing someone with a question after you have read her/his paper. Having a broad network of colleagues can really set you up for success.
What is your favorite thing to do when not working?
As one might guess for a Canadian, I love to both play and watch hockey (Go Leafs Go!). Lucky for me there are two rinks in Austin, so I get to skate at least once a week! That, and I am a big fan of watching Jeopardy as a nightly ritual.